Sand Creek Race Series is underway! Bear Creek race #1 is in the books and the suffering has begun, wait I mean the fun has begun. In classic Sand Creek style Andy and Eldon pieced together a circuit in Bear Creek that was super challenging while keeping with some good ol’ MTB riding fun. The crowds looked great last night as I rolled up to the venue, I was stressed from a hectic work week but relaxed getting to the race and seeing all the people out challenging themselves and having fun. I realize not everyone is the same as me but a good bike race always resets my clock so much. It helps me keep focus on what is important and what is fleeting; as well there is no doubt about it that a little suffering, even if it is self induced, has a nearly mystic ability to cleanse your mind.
Andy made a presentation to Tracy and myself and gave us our jersey’s for being the writer riders for this year’s season. I am honored Tim and Andy choose me for this role and I look forward to racing in my sweet new jersey throughout the year. I rolled a lap of the course which stung the legs even at recreational pace. The opening climb was a classic gravel kicker that sailed your system into oxygen debt after that the downhills come fast and you have just seconds to recover before you are pounding the pedals back up again. There were a few great downhill sections, laying the bike back and forth and drifting on the edge of traction around gravel corners. When I am suffering in a race I just try and relax and think about the sensations of riding, what it feels like to set up and go around a corner, how it feels to lock up the rear wheel and skid yourself straight around a quick 180.
Our Pro Open field was a bit small yesterday but as always in COS racing the quality was there. Russell Finserwald was on the start line which will always keep it fast. We were the opening group to ride off the start line for the last race of the day. You immediately turn up the longest climb on course so it was 100% pain right from the beginning. I was fourth place hitting the single track and already wheezing like a pig. I was well over the border into the state of discomfort and watching Russell, JJ, and Mark ride further away. I was not too happy at the time but I just relaxed and trusted the lungs would come around if I was patient. I kept riding trying to minimize the damage and on lap two started having the good sensations. It is cool when your body gets things sorted out and starts responding how you want. All of a sudden you are charging up little rises, shifting and pedaling for it on the descents, and just generally having fun. I started tracking down Mark and I think it was the third lap when I passed him. Russell and JJ were not within striking distance so I just kept my head down and pushed for the best workout I could get. Then dark clouds weaved through the canyon and a big roll of thunder licked the hill sides, I wondered how much longer this race would go on. Sure enough with hail storms looming we ended a lap early so everyone could make it to shelter and they could get the course torn down. I finished third to Russell in the lead and JJ Clark out of sight in 2nd. I still got pummeled by rain and hail pretty solidly riding home but nothing too bad. Once at a race in Steamboat I got blown off my bike and all my hair singed when lighting hit close around my proximity (it felt like it hit me) so I never get that upset about a race ending early for a storm.
One other not to make, Tracy Thelen dominated! She continues her winning ways, in fact I am not sure she has lost a race for the last few months.
Next week the party moves to Palmer Park. Perhaps my favorite race venue there is and for sure my favorite in our region. I have heard we have a roughly 4 mile circuit with a high pucker factor. Don’t even think of missing this, it is not option, see you on the start line.